Rihanna’s Diamond Ball ‘not about me,’ the singer says

The Diamond Ball II

Actor Will Smith, left, recording artist Rihanna and actress Jada Pinkett Smith attend the second annual Diamond Ball.

(Joe Scarnici / Getty Images)

The event: Just as in her gem of a hit tune, Rihanna looked every bit as “beautiful like diamonds in the sky” at Thursday’s second annual Diamond Ball. The event benefits the pop star’s Clara Lionel Foundation -- named for her grandparents, Clara and Lionel Braithwaite -- which funds projects to improve the quality of life in areas of health, education, arts and culture.

The crowd: Kevin Hart hosted the gala black-tie affair, honoring Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino and culminating in a performance by Lionel Richie. The audience included Kylie Jenner, Tyga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Holly Robinson Peete, Rodney Peete, Emily Ratajkowski, Zendaya, Mehcad Brooks and sports figures Andre Ward, Miguel Cotto, Asafa Powell and Rickie Fowler.

The scene: Inside the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, guests slipped on props for fun photos and played a gifting game for prizes, courtesy of presenting sponsor Samsung. All then adjourned for a lavish four-course dinner, accompanied by wines and Champagne in a glamorous supper club atmosphere, done up in mirrored tables, cozy banquettes, golden chairs, lavender roses and violet calla lilies, and 35 crystal chandeliers.

The program: “It was brought to my attention that last year raised $2 million,” Hart said when he took to the stage. But “last year didn’t have me,” he added, vowing to aim higher and kicking off fundraising efforts by pledging $50,000. And sure enough, before the evening ended, the noted actor-comedian-producer announced that the proceeds had surpassed the $3 million mark.


The auction: Guests greeted the auction with enthusiasm and by the time the hammer made its final descent, the Jeff Koons photo, “Girl With Dolphin and Monkey” sold for $65,000; Bono’s autographed guitar fetched $75,000 and a replica of Rihanna’s strapless satin Dior gown brought in $45,500.

The performance: “When I got the ask,” said Richie, “the question was, ‘Would you do it?’ I said, ‘Let me think about it – Yes!.’” He immediately got the audience on its feet, kicking off his set with “Running With the Night” and concluding with his signature, “All Night Long.”

Quote of note: “This evening is not about me,” said Rihanna. “Tonight we’re going to be extending a helping hand to others when they need it most.”

The numbers: The $3 million tally came from tickets beginning at $3,000, sponsor tables ranging up to $100,000, auction proceeds and additional donations.


Ellen Olivier is the founder of SocietyNewsLA